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A Big Fish Story


Being in the exploration business and often far from civilization certainly gives a body a chance to tie into some big fish. Now, big fish had been part of my up-bringing but they had generally been of the East Coast salt water variety. But here I was in Northern Manitoba in the middle of nowhere (actually, in the Tadoule Lake area) and I was not expecting to see any whoppers.


The day had started clear and cool with nary a wave on the water, perfect for doing shoreline work on a big lake. My partner and I had worked all morning on a set of islands on the middle of the lake and were having a quick lunch on an outcrop which dropped off into about ten feet of water. My orange accidentally rolled off the outcrop and into the lake but as I rose to reach for it, it appeared to sink. Just as I was about to complain about my bad luck to my partner, there it was bobbing back on the surface. Again I went to reach for it and this time it disappeared for good......right down the gullet of the largest northern pike I had ever seen. We speculated that he must have been the granddaddy of all pike and that we had been fortunate to have had the opportunity of the encounter.


Leaving our lunch spot we were heading to look at a copper showing on the west end of another small island. It was separated from our lunch island by about 30 meters of remarkably clear water just deep enough to allow us to comfortably run the canoe. As we approached the mouth of the passage we put up a mother duck and a brood of 12 ducklings about a week old. The duck family proceeded to scatter into the passage with some vigour, looking for an opportunity to hide from the canoe and its noisy motor. As we watched the proceedings it appeared that the ducklings were diving as part of their escape strategy. But their swirls in the water were too large, and try as we might we could not see the ducklings reappear on the surface.


To get a better vantage from which to try and locate some of the diving feather balls, I stood up in the bow of the canoe. To my amazement I noted that we were herding not only the ducklings ahead of us, but also a dozen or so monster pike which had been basking in the sun in the shallows between the islands. And as we watched, every time a skittering duckling got within range, a giant pike would shoot up off the bottom and inhale its noontime meal. Even though we stopped with the hope that mother duck could get the brood organized and out of danger, she could do no better than lead two of the brood to safety through the passage.


A few days later downstream of the lake we hooked into two of the Tadoule Lake monsters. The one we managed to get into the canoe weighed in the vicinity of thirty pounds. The second one, which was even larger, we managed to bring along side but with one flip of her head she broke our homemade clothesline wire leader and, smiling , slowly sank back into the depths. We elected not to go swimming.